Nepal agrees to speed up aid grants to quake victims

AP News
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Posted: Jun 30, 2016 5:30 AM
Nepal agrees to speed up aid grants to quake victims

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal has finalized rules for granting aid money to families seeking to rebuild homes destroyed in a set of devastating earthquakes that hit the Himalayan country last year.

Under pressure to speed up reconstruction, Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli said that payments of 200,000 rupees ($1,850) would be made to families in two installments, instead of three as originally planned. He also said the first installment would cover 75 percent of the total.

The decision was cheered by some of the millions left homeless by the disaster, many of whom have been living in tents or makeshift shacks through winter snows and summertime rains.

"It has been more than a year," said Krishna Tamang, a retired farmer whose home in the village of Sakhu, east of Kathmandu, crumbled with the force of the quake. "The monsoon rain is already here, and we are living in tin sheds. We are glad the government made the decision to give more money in the first installment."

Nearly 1 million homes were destroyed in the April 25, 2015, earthquake and strong aftershocks.

Since then, only 13,616 families have received partial aid money for reconstruction.

Nepal estimates the total reconstruction bill will come to $7.86 billion, of which $4.1 billion has been pledged by foreign governments and donor agencies.

Nepal's government, mired by political infighting, has been criticized for the delays. It took almost a year for Nepal to form an agency and appoint officials to oversee the reconstruction efforts, while millions of people were left without homes.